The Punu of China
The Punu are a sub-group of the Yao minority, one of China's 55 officially recognized ethnic minority groups. Although the Yao are composed of many diverse ethnic groups speaking many different languages, the Chinese government has grouped them together. Thus, the Punu are one of the groups in the larger Yao group.
The Yao live in several provinces in the south-central and southeastern parts of China. The Punu live specifically in the north-central Guangxi province. Although they are a part of the Yao minority group, their language, Punu, is more closely related to Miao.
The Yao related people groups originated in the present-day province of Jiangsu, then gradually migrated to Guangxi and other provinces of southern China. The Yao have been under Han Chinese rule for much of their history. Many times they revolted against the Chinese government, and they played an active role in China's Communist revolution.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most of the Punu are rural farmers who grow rice on terraces cut out of the sides of the high mountains. Other crops that are cultivated include corn, sweet potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and soybeans. The Punu traditionally practiced some "slash and burn" agriculture, growing crops in a clearing made by cutting and burning the forest growth. Hunting is also an important part of Punu life.
A favorite dish among the Punu is pickled bird. Cleaned birds are blended with salt and rice flour, then sealed in airtight pots. The Punu also pickle beef and mutton. "Oily tea" is also popular in the northern Guangxi area. This is made of tea leaves fried in oil, then boiled into a thick, salty soup and mixed with rice or soybeans.
A typical Punu house is built of wood and bamboo. They have three rooms, with a sitting room in the middle and bedrooms on either side. Some houses are two stories, with living quarters on the top level and a stable on the bottom or ground level.
The family is very important to the Punu, and divorce is a rare occurrence among them. Most Punu men have only one wife, but a few of them occasionally have more than one.
Although some marriages are still arranged by parents, that choice is now usually left to the young couple. The groom is usually sixteen or seventeen years old, and the bride is usually up to three or four years older.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The traditional Punu religion is a combination of ancestor worship and exorcism. Ancestor worship is the practice of praying to the spirits of deceased ancestors for help and guidance. Small altars for ancestor worship were traditionally located inside Punu homes. Exorcisms are used as a means of casting out evil spirits that are believed to be inflicting illness.
Religious beliefs are also similar to those of popular Chinese Taoism. Eighteen chief deities are recognized, in addition to a host of minor gods, supernatural beings, deceased heroes, and nature spirits.
Good spirits are considered to be the spirits of ancestors and their own household deities. Evil spirits include jungle demons, valley demons, and city demons.
Since the advent of Communism in 1949, the prominence of religion has declined in the lives of the Punu.
What Are Their Needs?
Although agriculture is the chief economic activity of the Punu, they often are not able to grow enough to feed all the people. However, physical hunger is not their greatest difficulty; rather, it is spiritual famine.
Most of the Punu have never had a chance to hear the Gospel, and there are only a few Christians living among them. The Bible has not yet been translated into the Punu language, and there are no Christian radio or television broadcasts available to them in their language. Prayer is the first step toward seeing the Puna reached with the Light of the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to open the doors of China to Christian missionaries.
- Pray that the Punu will hunger to know Jesus and that God will reveal Himself to them through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the few Punu believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Punu bound for many generations.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Punu.
- Pray for qualified linguists who will be able to translate the Bible into the Punu language.
- As the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Punu church to the glory of His name!
See also the following Group:
The Yao of China
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Punu
- Country: China
- Their language: punu (chiungani)
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 3,681
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 98,300 (19%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 427,600 (81%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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